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Pine pitch for Cutler's Resin

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I'm going to be doing another round of wood-to-steel glue & wood sealant torture tests and want to include cutler's resin in the mix.


I've noted the excellent topic on recipes http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=22631&view=&hl=cutler%27s%20resin%20recipe&fromsearch=1


But I wanted to see if there are preferred species of pine... and any recommendation for sources. I could drive over the Cascades and scrape pitch off the Lodgepole or Ponderosa pines on the dry side of the mountains... but I've got plenty of things to get done right at home.


I see that I can purchase "Brewer's Pitch" here: http://jas-townsend.com/product_info.php?products_id=373


or Pinion Pine pitch from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Lb-Granular-Pinon-Resin-IGPINB/dp/B000VV066Q

for twice the price.


So - are some pine species preferred?




Thanks! Michael

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I don't often invoke the wisdom of Tai Goo here, but he was one who made a lot of hay with cutlers resin, and Pinion was his weapon of choice for that application. On that reputation, I ordered a huge pile of it back in the day, raw unstrained as-collected, and still have quite a bit on hand. Works great within a certain temperature range - too hot, it melts off, too cold it gets brittle. I would never suggest it over modern adhesive on strength characteristics, and only use it for historical correctness now in reproduction work. Dissolved in alcohol it makes a nice varnish and dye, too, in certain applications.


Think of it like Nature's Hot Glue. And don't forget, it's the addition of aggregate material and the boiling off of volatiles and lighter liquids in the sap that make it work. Simply melting raw pitch won't do.

Edited by Christopher Price
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I use Pinon too...that's just what grows here. Works good, but I've also used melted down, reprocessed violin rosin and that worked just about as well. Personally I think the proportions of pitch/filler/wax used, and time and temperature of cooking it, probably have more effect than the particular species of pine resin. If you can collect resin locally, I'd try that first.


Cutler's resin is nowhere near as strong as epoxy, but has other nice qualities...it smells great, is non-toxic, has some antibacterial properties, and should last quite a long time without breaking down. As you can probably tell I'm pretty enthused with it, and I've been testing it out with various handle configurations. In my opinion, it works quite adequately with all the more traditional handle types, since there's usually a mechanical fastening (a peened tang, rivets through scales, or whatever) and the glue is mostly acting as a filler.

Edited by Orien M
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I have also had good luck with Frankincense. It smells good and is available at most heath food type stores and spice shops.


Just crush it up pack it in the hole and insert the tang heated to black heat (i have never checked the temp).

After i am done i let it set up and get the left over bits off the blade with a brass chisel.



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Good feedback all - thank you!


Christopher - "Nature's hot glue" - Mikey likes it!


Orien - one of the folks at last night's 5160 Club meeting offered to give me some of the random pitch he's collected over the years - Nice. So I *will* be trying "local resin first"...


DJ - I like the idea of using it for tang-hole-filler. Another of our 5160 Club folks showed some 2 part plastic resin last night that foams up a little but won't crack under (moderate) hammer blows - which he is trying out for tang hole filler - - - I'd rather use something like cutler's resin if it seems up to the job.


I'll go ahead and include it in my stress test. Results may vary according to my novice's luck on heating it to the right temp for the right length of time.


Again - thanks for sharing the wisdom!



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It pretty forgiving stuff. If it too hot it will all spit out of the hole as it boils (ps wear gloves the burns arnt that bad but...) and if its too cold it hard to get the tang all the way in.


My normal procedure is to

  • put a thick (i use a 1" thick peace of maple) wood block over the tip of the knife and lightly seat it with a few taps
  • wrap the blade in some damp paper towel or leather
  • then clap the filled handle in a vice
  • heat the tang till its black hot
  • insert the tang till it bottoms out
  • tap the wood block with mallet or hammer a few times to make sure every thing is seated fully


Mind you most of the knives i do are historical reproductions with short tangs that only run partially though the handle. You might need to add something to prevent the very liquid resin from running out if the hole goes all the way though the handle.


That being said i can clamp a knife handle glued this way in a vice, grab the blade with vice grips, and not be able to pull it out. That's with a 2-3" tang.




PS be warned the knife will crackle in use if its thin enough to flex around the blade tang juncture. Its nothing to worry about in my experience.

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When I use it for a hidden tang knife, I get the pitch to steaming hot (not quite boiling) and use a spoon to ladle some into the chucked up grip - you have to estimate how much is enough/too much, but a little extra is best. Then insert tang, tape/clamp if you need to, and just let it sit 'till it cools.

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